Discover the Greek islands, in the open Aegean Sea: how to sail by ferry from island to island during a stay in Greece?
You are in Athens and you are wondering which Greek island to visit? Between Zakynthos, Santorini, Mykonos, Folégandros, Ios, Milos, Naxos, Icaria, Corfu, Skyros, and nearly 9,000 other islands, the Ionian Sea and the Aegean Sea seem to be a fragmented puzzle of islands that are sometimes tourist traps, paradises, volcanic, deserts or authentic. Greece and its diverse archipelagos are among the favorite tourist destinations in Europe, with destinations for every budget and every traveler. But here comes the rub: how can you hop from island to island by ferry? Greece has a massive historical heritage in Europe, with its sublime beaches and unique landscapes, and attracts more than 26 million people every year, many of whom visit the islands, particularly those of the Cyclades. It should be noted that the Greek islands represent 20% of the total area of the country, i.e. more than 26,000 km² in total. There are 169 uninhabited islands among the 9,841 islands. The size of the Greek islands varies from the smallest (Delos, 3 km²) to Crete (8,263 km²).
Are you preparing to travel by ferry from mainland Greece to the Dodecanese, Cyclades or Sporades islands? Here is our short practical guide to ferry crossings in the Greek islands.
Ferry companies in Greece
How does they work?
There is a plethora of private ferry companies to choose from in order to discover the Greek islands and travel in the Cyclades, Dodecanese, Ionian Islands, Sporades, Saronic Gulf Islands, Northeast Aegean Sea Islands and Crete. The Ferries in Greece website allows you to compare the lines offered by around twenty ferry companies operating in Greece. With this tool, you will be able to plan your trips in advance according to your dates. Comparing the routes is easy thanks to the Ferries in Greece website, as maps show the departure plan and commercial policy (for ticket reservations) of each of the listed companies.
Google Maps also allows you to see the blue dots that indicate the links between the Greek islands. Don’t know where to go to visit the Greek islands? Interactive maps can give you ideas and then you can learn more with Traveltipy by reading our articles about Greece. Then, you can consult the Bible of the island traveler in Greece: the GTP Ferry Connections website, which refers to all ferry crossings according to companies and schedules. All you have to do is enter the desired route on the dates you are looking for, and the search engine will find all the timetables and indicative fares, illustrated by an interactive map showing the shipping routes.
The main companies
The main companies in Greece are as follows:
- Blue Star Ferries,
- Sea Jets,
- Anek Lines,
- Hellenic Seaways,
- Fast Ferries,
- Aegean Speed Lines,
- Golden Star Ferries.
Warning: from one day to the next, ticket prices may vary. It is recommended, as early as possible, to book a ticket as soon as a good offer is found, at the risk of seeing the price of the crossing skyrocket and in you paying unnecessarily higher prices. This is especially true if you travel in summer, as the tourist influx in the Greek islands causes prices to rise. However, Greece has invested heavily in maritime transport: you will always find a boat to Santorini, Corfu, Mykonos, Naxos, Paros, in the Ionian Islands, or from Folégandros to Milos (for example).
Plan a ferry trip in Greece with Direct Ferries
Direct Ferries is a worldwide crossing comparator, with 3,047 routes and 744 ferry ports, which organizes 1.2 million crossings each year. If you are looking to travel in Greece by ferry and plan a crossing, it is a very good tool and rather easy to use. Not all of us are rational, homo oeconomicus agents with enough time to compare fares and schedules among the dozens of existing companies. Probe this comparator to find boats at the desired dates and times (you must indicate the means of transport, the number of passengers, and any pets).
Although we cannot list all the possible routes through the thousands of Greek islands, here are some ideas for possible links with Direct Ferries:
- Heraklion (Crete)-Paros,
- Heraklion (Crete)-Athens,
- Corfu-Ancona (Italy),
- Bari (Italy)-Corfu,
- Cesme (Turkey)-Chios,
This list is only indicative and is far from exhaustive, it represents only a very small part of the possible links.
How to book your ferry trip in Greece?
To book your journey and travel by ferry in Greece, you can either buy a ticket on site at the port or buy a ticket in advance online. This last solution will save you long queues in summer at the port pier. Logically, there will be more crossings to Greece’s most famous islands, namely the Cyclades – Santorini, Mykonos, Paros, Naxos, Ios and Milos – and Crete.
Remember to check if a particular island is served by a direct link, what are the possible stops, the crossing times. For example, if it takes 14 hours to cross to Vathi (Samos) from Athens Piraeus, it only takes 30 to 45 minutes to go from Naxos to Paros: the geographical distance is to be taken into consideration!
To book your ferry ticket, go to Direct Ferries to find the best ferry deals, choose your seat or private cabin, your marital status information (name, first name), telephone number and e-mail address online. An insurance option is available: for a few extra euros per passenger, the site offers insurance to cancel a trip up to 48 hours in advance, with full refund of the ticket. It is a choice at everyone’s discretion, but we never personally choose this type of service. An e-mail is sent to you after making the payment. All you have to do now is pack your bags!
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